Abdulhadi Hairan - Afghan writer, research analyst, journalist, and translator

Afghanistan, Election 2009, FEATURED

August 20, 2009

Majority of a low turnout voted for Karzai (report and pictures)

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By Abdulhadi Hairan

Afghan Presidential Election 2009

Afghan Presidential Election 2009

‘Have not you ever seen a woman casting vote?’ asked an angry BB Jamila who was surrounded by an army of reporters and cameramen the moment she stepped inside Zarghoona High School at Shahr-e-Naw, Kabul. The reporters inundated her with questions she had never heard and had never expected that she would face such a situation in the polling center. Leaving home for the polling center, she had some hidden fears that the Taliban militants might attack, but here she was in a completely different situation: cameras flushed at her, reporters asked questions about the election, Afghanistan’s future and about the importance of women’s role. ‘Where do you think the country is heading?’ a reporter asked in Dari. She answered in a tired and uncaring voice that she was heading to cast her vote and then wanted to go to her home.

Inside the compound of the school, where the number of female voters seemed equal to the male voters, correspondents of the local and international media waited for voters to interview but the turnout was lower than they expected, so they had to wait for half of the whole day to get enough information to dispatch to their organizations.

My first visit was to the Habibia High School at Karta-e-3. The time was exactly 08:13 AM. The polling had been started about one hour earlier amid tight security. Empty roads and closed markets was a clear sign that the turnout will be low. At Habibia, this was the real case. Reporters and cameramen followed every voter to have an interview with or get some information from. Some people were willing to show their faces, others quietly left the schools leaving cameramen and reporters behind. The outspoken presidential candidate, Ramazan Bashardost cast his vote at this polling center and then started giving statements and interviews to the media. I saw no female voter entering this polling center.

Later, Dr. Ashraf Ghani also arrived at this polling center and cast his vote here. He was surrounded by a large number of campaigners who were highly optimistic about his victory despite the low turnout they could see. He also gave many statements and interviews to the media and met lot of people at the center. To my surprise, an old Kuchi man, whom I had interviewed few minutes ago and who proudly told me that he had cast his vote for Hamid Karzai, hugged him and told him that he liked him very much. After Mr. Ghani left, I asked the man if he was so fond of him and liked him so much why he voted for Karzai. He simply replied, ‘I like Ghani, he is a good man, but I voted for Karzai because I know he can lead this country better than anyone else.’

A voter at Zarghoona High School

A voter at Zarghoona High School

Presidential candidate Dr. Ashraf Ghani arriving at Habibia High School

Presidential candidate Dr. Ashraf Ghani arriving at Habibia High School

I interviewed few more people and went to another polling center: a high school at Chehal Satoon (district 7). And then to five more polling centers, including Zarghoona High School at Shahr-e-Naw. The voters were excited everywhere, but rush was nowhere. At a high school at Karta-e-9, there was a firing from somewhere close to the area, but there was no panic and the voters continued to vote. At Ghulam Haider Khan High School at Khairkhana, someone spread news that there was a blast at a polling center somewhere at the city. Yet no one left their place or looked worried. They just continued to vote and made exaggerating claims about the victory of their candidates.

At the polling centers, I interviewed 66 people and asked them whom they had voted for in order to have an idea about the popularity of the candidates. The result was that the majority of the people said they had voted for President Karzai. Following are the details of the respondents’ answers:

Habibia High School

President Hamid Karzai            9

Dr. Ashraf Ghani                         1

Dr. Abdullah Abdullah            1

Chehal Satoon

President Hamid Karzai            1

Dr. Ashraf Ghani                      1

Karta-e-9

President Hamid Karzai            2

Isteqlal High School, Park Zarnigar

President Hamid Karzai            2

Dr. Ashraf Ghani                      2

Dr. Abdullah Abdullah        1

Zarghoona High School, Shahr-e-Naw

President Hamid Karzai            7

Dr. Ashraf Ghani                      1

Dr. Abdullah Abdullah         2

Ghulam Haider Khan High School, Khairkhana

President Hamid Karzai            17

Dr. Ashraf Ghani                      3

Dr. Abdullah Abdullah         7

Ramazan Bashardost                1

Nadria High School, Karta-e-Parwan

President Hamid Karzai            4

Dr. Abdullah Abdullah             4

Total

President Hamid Karzai            42

Dr. Ashraf Ghani                          8

Dr. Abdullah Abdullah            15

Ramazan Bashardost                1

Among the people I interviewed 5 were women and the rest men. Among the men were Pashtoons, Tajik, and others. One said he was a traffic police officer. Majority of those who had voted for Karzai said they were happy with his leadership because their life conditions were improved during his presidency. A shopkeeper said he voted for Karzai because he had united the Afghans and provided better opportunities for them. He said he liked Karzai because he did not like wars and always acted wisely.

I also interviewed 10 people who were not registered voters. I asked why. 6 of them said they simply did not spare time to go to a voter registration center and register their names. 1 said they were not interested in the elections and did not care where the country was going. 1 said he was not sure whom to vote for, hence he did not try to get a voter card. 1 said he believed that democracy was against Islam.

Among the six who did not spare time for registering their names, 3 said they would have liked to vote for Karzai; one said for Dr. Ashraf Ghani; one said for Dr. Abdullah; and one said for Mirwais Yasini.

The voting is still underway and will continue until late. There is a strong possibility that a runoff will be needed.

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  1. Mr Hairan, the results are veyr hairan kununda! seems like you only interviewed karzai supporters :)

    Comment by Make urself happy — August 20, 2009 @ 9:35 am
  2. [...] writer, research analyst, journalist, poet, translator, localizer, and photographer,” reports that in a very unscientific survey of the 66 voters he spoke with at seven polling places in Kabul [...]

    Pingback by Latest Updates on Afghanistan’s Election - At War Blog - NYTimes.com — August 20, 2009 @ 10:03 am
  3. I think the story goes against it headline. Karzai took the great majority of votes in results from the south and
    east, while Abdullah took most of the votes in provinces north of Kabul

    Comment by Mohammad Ali — August 20, 2009 @ 12:58 pm
  4. Hm. I would like to know who the “others” are on the list of your interviewees. I presume like Pashtuns and Tajiks, they have their identities, too.

    On a different note, it seems as though you received a link from the New York Times. That’s an achievement. Congratulations!

    Comment by A Reader — August 20, 2009 @ 5:11 pm
  5. Dear Makeyourselfhappy,yes it is hairan kununda, but it is what I found. I voted for Ashraf Ghani so how could I interview only Karzai supporters?

    Comment by Abdulhadi Hairan — August 20, 2009 @ 6:49 pm
  6. Dear Mohammad Ali, this is not an official count, it is just what 66 people said at few polling centers.

    Comment by Abdulhadi Hairan — August 20, 2009 @ 7:54 pm
  7. [...] Majority of a low turnout voted for Karzai (report and pictures) [...]

    Pingback by Afghan Presidential Election 2009 Photos: voters « Abdulhadi Hairan — August 21, 2009 @ 12:18 am
  8. [...] Majority of a low turnout voted for Karzai (report and pictures) [...]

    Pingback by Afghan Presidential Election Photos: August 20, 2009 « Abdulhadi Hairan — August 21, 2009 @ 12:47 am
  9. [...] Majority of a low turnout voted for Karzai (report and pictures) [...]

    Pingback by Afghan Presidential Election, August 20, 2009: Photos « Abdulhadi Hairan — August 21, 2009 @ 1:31 am
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